THAILAND - Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's first female prime minister, has vowed to do away with sexual inequality in workplaces as a key strategy to develop the country.
She made this promise in her speech marking the International Women's Day yesterday. A transcript of it is available on www.thaigov.go.th.
In her speech, Yingluck noted that not many women played a prominent role as government leaders or as heads of business organisations. She said women constitute more than half of the Thai population, but inequality was rife in terms of employment opportunities. Worse still, many women continued becoming victims of violence and human trafficking, she said.
"The chance for women to rise to the top is still difficult, so the government has set the creation of sexual equality as a strategy for development," Yingluck said. "Gender equality will not just help with development, but it will also reduce poverty and lead to sustainable development. Plus, the development of the female population is an important ask for creating a strong foundation of the country."
Yingluck said that since her first year in office, the government has been promoting women's roles. She said the fund for developing women's role was a tangible effort for the government to create more opportunities by providing funds to create jobs and boost income.
The fund also provides comprehensive development for underprivileged women, she said.
The prime minister added that the fund also helps women play a more prominent role in the fields of economy, social and political affairs as well as provide them with better care and equal opportunities.
In order to mark the International Women's Day, about 400 female workers led by the Federation of State Enterprise Labour Relations and the Friends for Women Foundation rallied in front of Government House demanding better welfare for women workers.
They submitted a letter addressed to Yingluck, which was received by PM's Office Minister Sansanee Nakpong.
In the letter they called on the government to ensure all factories have a crèche; ratify the Maternity Protection Convention of the International Labour Organisa-tion so fathers can take leave with pay to take care of children; and enhance the Social Security Fund to provide better care for women.
Upon receiving the letter, Sansanee told representatives that Yingluck's government attached a lot of importance to women and families, and promised that the government would pay heed to their demand.
She said the labour minister was seeking cooperation from private firms to allow fathers to take leave to take care of their newborns and the government had already submitted a bill to the House to enhance social security benefits for women.
Sansanee also went to the rally site and laid down flowers to show respect for women and mothers, a move that was met with great applause.